Having your new puppy spayed or neutered is a responsible decision, but it can be a little intimidating.

Keep in mind that it is a routine, low-risk procedure. Once it’s complete, your dog will have a lower likelihood of developing cancer and you may find improvements in behavior.

In exchange for a brief period of discomfort, both you and your dog will benefit greatly. Being prepared is the best way to combat nerves and set your pup up for success. To help with this, we’ve put together the following short guide for making the spay/neuter process as painless as possible.

Before the Surgery

Our number one recommendation pre-surgery is to prep your home. Once you pick up your puppy from the vet, you’ll want to have everything ready and not be rushing around at the last minute. Here are some items you’ll want to have ready:

  • A comfortable bed – Your puppy will be sleepy and need a peaceful place to rest after the surgery. Make sure to set up the bed in a low-traffic area where other pets or children will not bother the dog. If your dog is accustomed to using a crate, place the bed inside of it. This is a great way to discourage activity during the recovery period.
  • E-collar – While the Elizabethan collar (e-collar) has traditionally been the popular option for stopping a dog from licking an incision site, there are other options available. If your dog dislikes the e-collar, consider a cloth cone, soft e-collar, jacket, or padded ring.
  • Toys – For the dogs who are too high-energy to relax, a beloved toy can encourage them to stay in one spot. Interactive and time-consuming toys are ideal for this purpose.

Besides assembling these items, the best way to help your dog is to stay calm and positive. If you act nervous beforehand, your puppy will wonder what’s wrong and what’s going to happen. You can ask your vet for specific instructions, but it’s generally required that you withhold food and water from your dog after midnight the day of the surgery.

Puppy in Surgery

After the Surgery

Most canine spay/neuter surgeries last anywhere from five to ninety minutes, depending on the gender and other factors. In some cases, a vet will want to keep a dog overnight for observation, but most of the time pets can go home the same day.

When you pick up your puppy, don’t be surprised if they seem lethargic or nervous. It will take a while for them to get back to normal after the anesthesia. Remember to ask your vet any questions you have about aftercare before leaving.

If you do forget something or think of a new question, don’t hesitate to call. Your vet, as the professional who knows your specific dog, will be best equipped to clarify any concerns. As long as your vet approves it, you can offer your dog a small meal on the day of the surgery. Don’t be alarmed if your puppy shows no immediate interest in food. It’s normal to be nauseous after coming out of general anesthesia. Discourage your puppy from being overly active, whether by crating or by keeping a close eye on them. If you have kids in your home, explain to them that the puppy needs quiet time in order to heal. Avoid bathing your puppy for at least ten days. Check the incision site multiple times a day. As long as your puppy doesn’t irritate the area by licking or chewing it, the usual recovery period is two weeks. Call your vet if you notice any of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling, bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
  • Noticeable discomfort/anxiety

Your vet may send you home with pain medication, but sometimes this is not needed. Your puppy will be given long-lasting medication to relieve pain during the procedure itself.

Spaying & Neutering: A Savvy Decision

As unsettling as it can be to see your puppy recovering from surgery, remember that the unpleasantness will be short-lived. By preparing yourself and your home for the surgery, you can ensure that the experience goes as smoothly as possible. You’re doing a great service by spaying or neutering your pet. In addition to the health and behavioral benefits for your own dog, you’re also doing your part to cut down on pet overpopulation.